We were fortunate to have a range of expertise and skills from across our community, including representatives from three seniors’ residences: Lookout Ridge, Gilmore Lodge and Chartwell Niagara; and Niagara Child Care Sector Executive Committee; the Kiwanis Clubs of Niagara; and the three pilot child care programs: A Child’s World – Lookout Ridge, Niagara Nursery School, and Fort Erie Regional Child Care Program.
Monthly visits between preschoolers and seniors were supported with open-ended, unstructured, play based learning materials to inspire conversation and to promote the development of trusting and nurturing relationships. In planning for the visits, the Advisory Committee determined appropriate number and length of visits, most suitable time of day, transportation options, and health and safety considerations. The committee also offered advice towards the development of a preschool backpack, senior information pack and strategy handbook.
The first visit engaged seniors and children with messing about and exploring a variety of loose parts and natural materials within the toolkit. Everyone enjoyed a story accompanied by the joyful sounds of a collaborative musical circle. At the second meeting, everyone decorated placemats and aprons and shared a group story. The third session brought seniors and children together for a cookie baking experience and the seniors were encouraged to share stories from their childhoods. The fourth and final visit was a celebration of new found friendships that included a planting experience and decorating pots that would be left with our senior friends to remember the children by.